Updated: 04/29/2014 4:33 PM
Created: 04/29/2014 3:21 PM WDIO.com
By: ERICA WERNER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House approved bipartisan legislation Tuesday to exempt U.S. health plans sold to expatriate workers from having to comply with requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
The measure, which passed 268-150, is aimed at helping U.S. insurance companies like Cigna and MetLife that are at a competitive disadvantage with foreign firms that do not have to comply with ACA requirements such as free preventive care and a ban on lifetime coverage limits. Sixty Democrats joined most Republicans in voting "yes," while 17 Republicans opposed the legislation.
There is widespread agreement on the need for a fix under the health law for U.S.-written expatriate plans that can be sold to Americans working overseas and foreigners working here or elsewhere. But senior Democrats and the White House opposed the bill that was advanced Tuesday, saying it contained deal-killing loopholes, including opening the possibility that legal permanent U.S. residents could be sold expatriate plans that don't meet the basic requirements of the health law.
"We do need to fix the expat issue, but not by unfixing health care reform," Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said.
Supporters of the bill said that after working on the issue for years it was time to bring it to a vote, and further changes could be made as it moved through the Senate. They said the measure was needed to protect thousands of U.S. jobs that would disappear if U.S. companies that issue expatriate health insurance can't compete with foreign firms.
"This bill represents a very narrow change to the law that saves jobs," Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., said. "This bill simply mends the law. It doesn't end the law."
The GOP-controlled House has passed more than 50 bills to repeal, cancel out or otherwise uproot President Barack Obama's health law, and it remains a potent political issue heading into the November midterms. Yet Republicans increasingly appear to be acknowledging that the law is here to stay, especially since the first open enrollment period ended with larger-than-expected sign-up numbers.
Most in the small group of Republicans voting "no" Tuesday were staunch conservatives who contend the health law is not fixable. But for the most part Tuesday's debate was notable in its focus on the issues raised by the expatriate bill, not the larger politics that have dogged "Obamacare" for years.
"The ACA is a political weapon in a longer political war on both sides of the aisle," said Rep. John Carney, D-Del., a sponsor of the bill. "Let's call a temporary truce in that battle today to protect those jobs."
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
911 Service Outage in St. Louis Co.
St. Louis County says AT&T Cellular Service is experiencing problems with cell phones being able to dial into 911 in St. Louis County. If you need assistance and are unable to get through, please dial 218-727-8770 in the Duluth Area and 218-749-6010 north of Duluth to reach the 911 Center.
Poll: Support for PolyMet Mine Has Declined
A new poll shows support for a proposed copper and nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota has declined. The poll for the Star Tribune shows 40 percent of Minnesotans surveyed approve of PolyMet's plans.
Duluth Man Charged With Second-Degree Murder After Allegedly Killing His Mother
The man who allegedly admitted to killing his 71-year old mother with a knife Tuesday was formally charged with second-degree murder Thursday and will undergo a judge-ordered psychological review before his case goes any further.
One Suspect Arrested, One at Large in Last Month's Central Hillside Shooting
Duluth Police have arrested one of two suspects they believe were involved with an August 19 shooting on the Central Hillside.
Early Morning Fire Damages Superior Home
The Superior Fire Department was on the scene of a structure fire that damaged a two-story home for about two hours early Thursday morning.